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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20

Individual Liberty

Individual Liberty.

The vulgar notion of liberty only implies a freedom from constraint of action. This is a very defective definition, and you will perceive its defects when you hear what the Harmonialist says:—

"True liberty can only be enjoyed by the united freedom and union of internal and external law working in harmony; physical action is bounded by the power and circumstance of our being, and its social relations, but the range of mind is illimitable, and we claim for it free course to pursue its unrestricted enquiry, and to speak its sentiments as well as Moses, Buddha, Jesus or Mahomed. Nothing must be considered too sacred, nor yet anything too profane, on which to exercise the powers of man's intellectual endowments, but this which appears so simple is a most difficult task. The iron sceptre of im- page 4 perfect truth (comparatively great and glorious in the age of its advent among the infant races of mankind, but now rusted and time-worn) is made to enter into man's soul, like vaccine virus into the fluids of the body, and he knows it not, nor yet feels its stunting influence prostrating the free-born energies of his mind, but when the angel of harmony lifts him up he is no longer enslaved by the opinions of the old fathers of thought, he views them from his advanced position in the process of the ages, and they become his servants, aiding him in plucking the fruit from the ever-flourishing tree of Knowledge. Great names, great authorities, and great precedents have, in themselves, no weight in the balance of his judgment, he follows not the dialectic mode of reasoning pursued by the schoolmen of the middle ages, but examines for himself the evidences of others' conclusions. In short, he is a man on his own account, and not a lackey and lickspittle to another, the senseless echo of an uncertain sound.